Fingerprint match puts Somali asylum-seeker under piracy suspicion

Osnabrueck, Germany (dpa) – A Somali man seeking asylum in Germany under a false name ended up charged with piracy after authorities matched his fingerprints with those taken from a German ship hijacked in 2010, according to media reports Sunday.

The unnamed man was arrested in the German city of Giessen after the routine fingerprint check, reported the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung in advance of publication on Monday.

Prosecutor Alexander Retemeyer told the newspaper that the man has partially confessed and now faces charges of taking hostages for ransom and grievous bodily harm.

The man was allegedly involved in the hijacking of the Marida Merguerite off the Horn of Africa in 2010. Twenty-two hostages were kept on board for eight months until a ransom of 4.2 million euros (5.5 million dollars) was paid at the end of that year.

The vessel is owned by a shipping company based in the German city of Haren. After the ship was returned, German investigators processed the ship for clues, lifting fingerprints in the process.

Prosecutors say the man was involved with securing food supplies while the ship was held and was paid off from the ransom money. They said they hope to use any testimony he gives to track down members of a wider pirating network.

During the hijacking, the hostages were allegedly tortured, at times forced naked into the ship‘s freezer and, at others, nearly suffocated with plastic bags over their heads. dpa sto sk ncs vos Author: Sigrun Stock


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